Four months ago, Warner Bros. made the smart decision of hiring Paddington director Paul King to helm its new Willy Wonka movie. Per Collider, the studio has now begun to put together a shortlist of stars they are considering for the title role, and the brief list is filled with more potentially smart decisions.
The list is reportedly headed by Ryan Gosling, Donald Glover, and Ezra Miller. The project itself is coming from Harry Potter producer David Heyman and Man Seeking Woman screenwriter Simon Rich, and it’s rumoured to be a prequel that will explore Wonka’s origin story.
While this might be one of those instances where an origin story is totally unnecessary as Wonka’s enigmatic presence is what makes him so good, Warner Bros. have at least put together a shortlist of actors that would be exciting fits for the role. The studio already has a lot invested in Miller – he’s in the Fantastic Beasts franchise and plays The Flash – so it’s possible he has the inside track.
Gosling is the biggest star out of the three and Warner Bros. have reportedly coveted working with him for years, even going as far as picking up his esoteric arthouse directorial debut Lost River in 2015 just to be in business with him. Gosling’s schedule looks pretty clear heading into next year, but he’s often stayed away from these kind of family-friendly roles in the past.
However, it might be Glover who is the favourite for the role right now, as he’s as in demand as he’s ever been. With his musical alter ego Childish Gambino riding high, the second season of Atlanta being a hit, and his role as Lando Calrissian being the standout in Solo: A Star Wars Story, it would be the perfect time for Warner Bros. to cash in on a burgeoning star.
It also helps that Glover has reportedly been actively chasing the role. While Gene Wilder will likely remain the definitive version of Willy Wonka thanks to his classic turn in the 1971 film, any of the aforementioned actors would be fascinating choices to take the reigns. We’ll wait and see who King and the studio eventually pick for the role.